It’s been less than a week since the MTG 2023 schedule was announced to the world, yet many players are already unhappy. While plenty is undoubtedly exciting, some players have voiced their concerns that Magic is getting stale. Thankfully, not with the new and old returning mechanics, but instead the game’s setting.
Something We’ve Seen Before
During the recent Wizards Presents 2022 Livestream, it was announced Magic would be returning plenty of familiar planes in 2023. In Magic’s next four premier sets, for instance, players will be getting intimately familiar with the plane of Dominaria. This is thanks to the Phyrexian arc, which threatens to change the multiverse as we know it. While this vast story event already has many players on the edge of their seats, others are already fatigued with the thought of nonstop Dominaria.
Following the Phyrexian arc, which is set to conclude in the Spring of 2023, Magic players will be given some variety to spice up their lives. Moving away from Dominaria, 2023’s last two premier sets return to Eldraine and Ixalan. As fan-favorite locations from 2018 and 2019, players are once again excited for the future of Magic. However, that excitement isn’t universal. Instead, across the weekend, some players took to lamenting Magic for returning to planes we’ve seen before.
Despite the recent venture to the new plane of Capenna, Magic is primed to spend the following seven sets on planes we’ve seen before. Many players condemn this decision as a lack of variety from Wizards of the Coast. Others, however, decide to meme the density of Phyrexian sets. This sentiment even reached Magic’s Lead Designer, Mark Rosewater, with one user claiming that Magic is just “recycling old material.”
In response, Mark Rosewater reassured fans that “there are a lot of new worlds being worked on right now.” Furthermore, Rosewater attested that WotC isn’t moving away from designing new MTG planes, despite 2023’s release schedule. Instead, Rosewater stated, “sometimes the story we’re telling and how things work out just make the pendulum swing in a certain direction.”
It’s Not All Bad News
With the Phyrexian arc dominating much of 2023’s release schedule, this story-focused explanation isn’t surprising. After all, telling a truly epic saga of events requires plenty of time being dedicated to that story. This means, for better or worse, Dominaria is here to stay for the time being. As Dominaria United has already proved, however, this is far from a bad thing. While players may tire of seeing the same characters and villains, there should be a lot of variety mechanically.
For instance, in Dominaria United, players are getting a trio of new mechanics and returning favorites. Alongside its compelling promotions and litany of Legendary creates, Dominaria United is shaping up to be a set to remember. Despite being set on the same plane, there’s no reason to think The Brother’s War, Phyrexia: All Will Be One, and March of the Machine couldn’t be equally as exciting. Mechanically, at least, each of these sets should have a vastly different focus from one another. We already know that The Brother’s War, for instance, focuses on colossal artifacts, rather than the Phyrexian menace. This trip back in time should hopefully feel like a welcome reprieve that keeps the sets from feeling too samey.
Despite the detractors already making their voices heard, there are those who’re excited about Magic’s return to familiar planes. In a question posted to Blogatog, one user stated that while they “DO want new planes,” they’re nonetheless happy with Magic’s current direction. “I’m happy to see these relatively new locations in the MTG multiverse be revisited, and I’m excited for more dinosaurs and more fairy tales.” This isn’t just one lone voice either, as Rosewater reiterated this sentiment in his answer. “I’m seeing plenty of excitement about both Wilds of Eldraine and The Lost Caverns of Ixalan,” Rosewater revealed.
Bringing Back the Old Standard
Players have been spoiled recently with new planes such as Capenna, Arcavios, and Ikoria released in the past two years. This has been enabled thanks to Magic’s four-set model, which no longer utilizes blocks. Through this model, WotC has had incredible freedom to take Magic across the multiverse while telling isolated short stories.
While this has allowed for fantastic variety in setting and mechanics, Magic’s story has somewhat suffered. Without interlinked sets, players are never in one place for enough time to truly appreciate a plane and its story. As a user notes on the MagicTCG subreddit, “Ikoria feels more like a fever dream than something that actually happened. And Kaldheim was way too big to have only spent a single set there.”
This issue wasn’t as prevalent in Magic’s old two and three-set block design philosophy. Through this design philosophy, there was enough time to set up and resolve a story to completion. While it’s not officially a four-set block, this is precisely what we see in the Phyrexian arc. While it’s admittedly a lot of Dominaria, that’s just the cost of adequately telling what might be the biggest story in Magic’s history.
For better or worse, the MTG 2023 release schedule has already been planned out and announced, so there’s no changing it now. Following on from 2023, it sounds like plenty of new planes may be in the works. However, we’ll have to wait and see about that. It’s likely we may be waiting a while, however, as 2024’s sets likely won’t be announced until Wizards Presents 2023.